Posted: Thursday May 19, 2011 11:43AM ; Updated: Thursday May 19, 2011 1:59PM
Luke Winn

How one firing set off a wacky chain reaction (cont.)

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Jim Larranaga
Jim Larranaga's move to Miami surprised many people, including George Mason sophomore Luke Hancock, who may transfer.
Richard C. Lewis/Icon SMI

9. April 13: Louisville assistant Tim Fuller, the former Wake Forest walk-on who recruited Raleigh, N.C., product Rodney Purvis --'s No. 7 overall player in the Class of 2012 -- to the Cardinals, leaves for a similar post at Missouri. Fuller says that new Tigers coach Frank Haith, whom he met at Wake, is like a "father figure." This means Louisville, like Florida, will have an all-new set of assistants for 2011-12, after Steve Masiello left to become head coach at Manhattan, and Mark Lieberman returned to his role as Director of Basketball Operations.

Reverberations: Purvis' verbal commitment is in question, because Fuller was his primary contact at Louisville. While Purvis doesn't immediately open up his recruitment, rumors swirl that he's reconsidering his college options.

10. April 15: Haith completes his Missouri staff by hiring assistant Isaac Chew away from Murray State. Chew was one of the top recruiters in the Ohio Valley Conference, helping stock a Racers team that won an NCAA tournament game in 2010, and he formerly worked with the loaded Kansas City Pump 'N' Run AAU program.

Reverberations: Aside from Murray State losing its top recruiter? Missouri lands a coach with direct connections to the AAU program that produced current players Marcus Denmon, Michael Dixon and Steve Moore, and will likely be a source of future talent. That means Kansas, where a number of other K.C. Pump 'N' Run products (Travis Releford, Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar and Elijah Johnson) have landed, will have to battle for some of the program's recruits.

11. April 22. After flirting with Harvard's Tommy Amaker and Milwaukee's Rob Jeter, Miami hires George Mason's Jim Larranaga. To some, Larranaga's willingness to leave Fairfax for a low-level ACC gig comes as a surprise, but in the context of Smart's extension at VCU, it's not. George Mason couldn't give Larranaga a Shaka-trumping contract or commit to building a new practice facility, while Miami could offer that money and the chance to coach in the ACC before he retired.

Reverberations: Amaker is locked in at Harvard for another season, where he'll be coaching the Ivy League favorite. Jeter is still at Milwaukee, and Martin is still at Kansas State. One of the best jobs in the CAA is now open -- and the new coach will inherit a top-30 roster that's capable of making the NCAA tournament.

12. April 30: Paul Hewitt, who was fired by Georgia Tech on March 12, is hired as the new coach at George Mason. He has the potential to earn $1 million per year with bonuses -- but he'll also be receiving $7.2 million over five years as part of his buyout from Tech.

Reverberations: Mason's choice of Hewitt means several hot mid-major candidates -- including Vermont's Mike Lonergan and Long Island's Jim Ferry -- are still on the market. Lonergan, a former Maryland assistant, is soon hired by George Washington, which is a rebuilding job in a bigger conference.

13. May 2: Rodney Purvis officially reopens his recruitment, backing off his verbal commitment from Louisville. His new list of teams includes the Cardinals, as well as N.C. State, Duke and Kentucky. "I just want to develop a relationship with the new staff," Purvis says of the Cards. "Louisville isn't out or nothing like that."

Reverberations: A huge Class of 2012 prospect -- perhaps the best scoring point guard -- is back on the market. Although Purvis' new list is only four teams long, it's thought that Missouri still has a chance due to his relationship with Fuller. Either way, Purvis will be one of the most aggressively recruited players on the summer scene.

14. May 5: Luke Hancock, the sophomore who hit the game-winning shot in George Mason's second-round victory over Villanova in the NCAA tournament, is granted permission to "explore the possibility" of transferring. The 6-foot-5 forward wants to consider his options in the wake of Larranaga's departure for Miami.

That move had come as a shock; when SI interviewed Hancock for a story on Mason in February, he said, "Larranaga was a big reason I came here. I didn't want a coach who was going to flake out and leave for a bigger school. He's had the opportunity to go to bigger places, and he likes it here."

Reverberations: Mason's status as a likely NCAA tournament team is in question without Hancock, who led the team with 4.3 assists per game while also averaging 10.9 points. He could still return to the Patriots, but says "around 15 or 20" schools have contacted him about transferring. Among them are Virginia, Virginia Tech, Michigan and Louisville. Why the Cardinals? Because of the Kevin Keatts connection: Hancock was a former player of his at Hargrave.

15. May 15: Hewitt lands a huge recruit in 6-8 Philadelphian Erik Copes, who's ranked No. 57 overall in the Class of 2011 and could see instant playing time at George Mason. Copes was released from his letter of intent at George Washington after the firing of coach Karl Hobbs, and Hewitt's plan to hire Copes' uncle, former GW assistant Roland Houston, helped seal the deal. As Copes told, "I really wanted to be coached by my uncle."

Reverberations: New GW coach Mike Lonergan's rebuilding effort gets more difficult with the loss of Hobbs' top recruit. Hewitt bolsters his roster with the highest-rated prospect that any CAA school landed for the Class of 2011.

16. May 16: The first recruit to commit to Mark Gottfried at N.C. State is a huge one: Five-star shooting guard Torian Graham, the No. 25 overall player in the Class of 2012. He passed on Florida State and Kentucky, and is the second-highest rated recruit committed to any ACC school (after Duke-bound Rasheed Sulaimon) from that class.

Reverberations: N.C. State fans have already started to feel better about the Gottfried hire, which initially drew a tepid reaction. Graham believes the Wolfpack can finish with a loaded 2012 class, and has taken it upon himself to start recruiting other elite, in-state players -- the primary target being Rodney Purvis, who could join him in a backcourt that would rival anything at Duke or North Carolina.

If Gottfried gets Purvis, the coach should thank John Pelphrey. In a convoluted way, all of this was triggered by his firing in Fayetteville.

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